Clayton: Seahawks’ Carroll, Schneider beginning to paint picture of offseason
The NFL Scouting Combine is underway in Indianapolis, where Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider each spoke over the first two days.
The Seahawks have 14 unrestricted free agents and the team has been in contact with the players they want to return. Around the league, plenty has been happening. The Philadelphia Eagles aren’t franchising quarterback Nick Foles, giving him the opportunity to go to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The New York Giants are standing by Eli Manning, and the Oakland Raiders sound as though they are staying with Derek Carr. Not only that, but Jason Witten left ESPN, where he was doing color commentary for Monday Night Football, to return to the Dallas Cowboys as a tight end.
Probably the biggest story for the Seahawks is Carroll and Schneider talking about the stability of the franchise despite the passing of Paul Allen. Carroll spoke in great terms about how well Jody Allen, Paul’s sister, is running the team trust as the main leader of the organization. For those wondering about a possible sale of the franchise, it’s not for sale.
Now let’s get back to the team on the field.
From a health standpoint, the Seahawks are in the best shape they have been in years. Because of their success under Carroll and Schneider, the Seahawks have usually carried a lot of injury concerns into the offseason, but that isn’t the case this year. Wide receiver Doug Baldwin had knee and shoulder surgery, but Carroll spoke of his toughness in battling through the injuries all season.
Carroll spoke optimistically about tight end Will Dissly, who is coming back from patellar tendon knee surgery, one of the toughest injuries to recover from. Jimmy Graham fought through a patellar injury and it was a battle to get him ready for the start of the 2016 regular season.
In an interview on my show on 710 ESPN Seattle, Carroll said it not be until during training camp when Dissly gets back on the field, but he is confident the University of Washington product will be there for the start of the season. Dissly’s youth helps the recovery process, and Carroll also praised how well he played, and more specifically blocked, before the injury.
Schneider said talks continue with defensive end Frank Clark, whose rookie contract is up, but time is running out. Tuesday is the deadline for franchise tags. Of the four expected franchise tags to be handed out to defensive ends or edge rushers, DeMarcus Lawrence of the Dallas Cowboys has the best chance to get one. He could get a contract worth around $20 million a year, and a tag is waiting for him if no deal is done.
If none of those rushers get a deal, expects tags on Clark, Lawrence, Dee Ford of the Kansas City Chiefs and Jadeveon Clowney of the Houston Texans. Placing a tag on Clowney is more likely because a long-term deal might cause some internal friction in Houston if Clowney is making much more than J.J. Watt, the Texans’ best player.
When I talked to Schneider on Wednesday, I got the feeling he is less worried about the few number of draft choices the Seahawks have going into the draft or next year’s compensatory picks. Last year he wisely turned down chances to get third- and fourth-round compensatory picks for losing Jimmy Graham, Paul Richardson and Sheldon Richardson in free agency. With seven new players on defense and four on offense, the Seahawks proved that they needed players in 2018 more than compensatory picks in 2019. They ended up getting the equivalent of four starters – Barkevious Mingo, Ed Dickson, Shamar Stephen and D.J. Fluker – along with kicker Sebastian Janikowski.
Schneider said he’s more concerned about adding players for this year, although he would love to trade down to grow the number of draft choices from four up to eight. To get starters for this year, the Seahawks might sacrifice some compensatory picks to get players to improve the roster.
Another thing we learned is that Earl Thomas is all but gone. The Seahawks are letting the All-Pro free safety hit the free agent market. Reports are out that the Dallas Cowboys have already met with Thomas’ agents, while former Legion of Boom running mate Richard Sherman said Tuesday he’s actively recruiting Thomas for the San Francisco 49ers. He did say if the offers are even for Thomas, the Texas native would go to the Cowboys, however.